Saturday, November 28, 2009

Melinda, a.k.a. Old Square Butt

The girl told me yesterday that my butt was square, not round like hers. It also "looks old".

Thank you darling. Thank. you.

Hello, weight watchers?

P.S. I helpfully did not point out that childbirth, age and gravity have contributed to my square butt condition... don't want to polish the rose color off those glasses just yet.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Christmas Hope

I admit I'm in denial that there are only 40-something days left until Christmas and far more tasks to be done than can possibly be fit into that time frame. Decorating, shopping, cooking, shopping, baking, shopping, class parties, shopping, charity gifts, shopping, gift wrapping.... Ugh.

A 112 yearold editorial from The Sun newspaper of New York City. This letter, and Francis Church's reply were originally featured on page seven, 8th letter down (after a letter about those new-fangled chain bicycles) during the Christmas season of 1897. It is the most reprinted editorial in the English language.

Rob and I were discussing how wonderfully this letter rises above the innocent question of a child and challenges us to take on the roll of Santa ourselves to those we love and to all of those with whom we share this world. I have highlighted my favorite sentiment of Mr. Church's wonderful response to little Virginia.

DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For...

... you just might get it!

A post or two ago I told you that life was rockin along, boring as usual. What a CLASSIC "spoke too soon" moment that was!

The girl is recovering from her third double ear infection in just over a month. And as if the agony of earaches was not enough to wipe us out, she managed to pick up a virulent streptococcus infection in her throat. The antibiotics taste HORRIBLE! You don't even have to taste it to figure that part out. The ten minute, tag-team effort to shove 1 teaspoon of medicine past clinched teeth should be proof enough.

Lack of sleep, medicine battles, and anti-biotic induced crankiness have made our house a cranky place to be. So don't pop by without warning! You may be roped into motrin-giving, yogurt-coaxing, I'll-buy-you-the-moon-if-you-just-take-this-tiny-bit-of-antibiotics...please bribery.

On Thursday she refused to wear anything but a red dance outfit. It was the first truly cold day of the Fall, so the heater had to be turned up. The heater that hasn't been used since last winter. Apparently dust builds up on the heat strips in one's attic space and will create a strong burning smell (even though nothing is burning) and set the fire alarm off! Who knew?

Soooooo... the Fire Department made a visit just to check things out, and, lucky them, got to pick their way through the attic that is NOT tidy. This was after they had stepped over 15 toys, two towels and other items in a house that has been functioning on emergency clean-up only basis for most of the week. At least we know the fire alarm works just fine and that our local firefighters have a response time of under 10 minutes!

Friday was just...just... NUCLEAR! She was well enough to go back to school after four days out, but had to spend two hours with me at work after school. During which time she did the exact opposite of what she was asked to do or not do at least 50 times. I counted. It's no exaggeration.

After work we stopped by the Rec Department to sign the boy up for tennis lessons. So of course, while I was paying for said lessons and engaged in conversation with the clerk, she slips away to the playground... after being very directly told "NO!" in response to a playground visit request less than one minute before. Grrrrrrrr! So pixel nanny privileges were suspended for the entire weekend. Which resulted in a 30 minute meltdown. Melt.... down... I'm surprised you couldn't hear it all the way at your house!

Get your guest room in order Aunty Evil. I'm one tantrum away from sending her over!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Fixer

"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares."

— Henri J.M. Nouwen

I think of myself as a "fixer." An analytical thinker who, given a problem, instantly begins the process of weeding through ideas to find a solution. When I was pregnant, I read a bazillion articles and books about pregnancy. Soon the firstborn was keeping us up at night and the "What to expect" book was never too far out of reach. Google has been both friend and foe in the effort to tackle such parenting issues as picky eaters, weird ailments (see Fifth's Disease... transmitted to us electronically via Stomper Girl, impetigo and the MRSA scare).

My brother died. You can't fix that. Can't read an article, attend a class, find a resource to make your life, the lives of those you love, magically return to the sunny days of "before". But by God I tried. I read books on grief, stupidly offered them to my mother, thinking that grief and loss is something that you "fix." Then I stumbled upon this. And I knew. This isn't fixable. It doesn't go away. It does change, life can still be good. But it doesn't return to what it was. How can it? All of life's experiences change us, make us different people than we were in the before.

I often wish that instead of shoving solutions her way, I had just sat with my mother and done nothing. Just helped her carry the weight of grief. I wish I had just been there. Just given my love and my sorrow and my own sadness. Simply been there.

Today I have read of two people who are touching wounds with warm and tender hands. Instead of fixing, they are giving love and hope. It reminds me that life is not always warm and safe. But there are friends who make it not quite so dark. Not quite so lonely. Not quite so sad.

Thank you friends.

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